Editor, IFSEC Global

March 9, 2020

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Coronavirus

£800,000 worth of “coronavirus related” cyber scams recorded

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has warned the public to be aware of scams and fraudulent emails relating to the coronavirus outbreak. Similar scams have reportedly already tricked the UK public out of £800,000, according to the police.

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A number of the fraudulent scams targeted those desperate to purchase face masks, while others have included the sending of emails from fake ‘Centers for Disease Control’ accounts, claiming to be able to provide the victim with a list of infected people with their local area. The links targets are required to click on then take them to malicious websites.

A total of 21 cases of fraud were recorded by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau over the last month.


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The NFIB has advised consumers not to click on suspicious links or attachments, and not to respond to unsolicited messages asking for financial or personal details.

Ilia Kolochenko, Founder & CEO of web security company ImmuniWeb, has offered his opinion on the news: “Coronavirus is a formidable and fairly unprecedented opportunity to trick panicking people amid the global havoc and mayhem. In light of the spiraling uncertainty and fake news, even experienced cyber security professionals may get scammed by a well-crafted phishing email allegedly coming from a national health authority and involving his or her family or workplace.

“The more emotions and personal matters the attackers leverage, the more successful their campaigns will likely be. The human factor remains the most burdensome to mitigate by technical means among the wide spectrum of organizational cyber risks, and the COVID-19 connection makes victims particularly susceptible to thoughtless actions.

“Organisations should urgently consider implement and promulgate a clear, centralised and consistent internal process to communicate all the events and precautions related to the coronavirus pandemic. Corporate cyber security and security awareness should constitute an invaluable part of such communications, as cyber criminals are profiteering from obscurity and uncertainty.”

This advice would naturally extend to employees, so IT and security teams may need to communicate similar messages internally. There is more employer advice for coronavirus, here.

If you are concerned that you may have been a victim of fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud at any time of the day or night by using Action Fraud’s online reporting tool.

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